The real black women that inspired the controversial series ‘Sexo e as negas’

Women of the Cidade Alta of Cordovil in Rio gather in the community to watch 'Sexo e as negas'
Women of the Cidade Alta of Cordovil in Rio gather in the community to watch ‘Sexo e as negas’

Note from BW of Brazil: The controversial television series Sexo e as negas has been featured on the blog a number of times since it debuted a little over two months ago. The show is still a hotly contested issue within black social circles in Brazil, particularly among activists who have been blasting the show as the very embodiment of stereotypes that have plagued the experience of being a black Brazilian woman since the days of slavery. As the series continues, over the past few weeks there have been a number interesting developments in the debate over the series. BW of Brazil will feature another in-depth feature and analysis of these developments in a future post.

But for now….If you’ve followed the reporting on this series you know that writer Miguel Falabella revealed that the shows was inspired by the American series Sex and the City. But the series was also inspired by women that the author knows from Cidade Alta, in the Cordovil neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. Below is a brief introduction to a few of those women…

Meet the women that inspired Miguel Falabella to write Sexo e as negas

Residents of Cidade Alta of Cordovil celebrate success of Globo television series

By Fernando Vieira

Mauricéia Nascimento and Nieta Costa inspired “Sexo e as Negas”
Mauricéia Nascimento and Nieta Costa inspired “Sexo e as Negas”

The series Sexo e as negas of the Globo TV network, made Cidade Alta of Cordovil famous throughout the country. And any resemblance between the characters created by Miguel Falabella and real women of the community is not a mere coincidence. The program tells of the amorous misadventures of Zulma (Karin Hills), Tilde (Corina Sabbas), Lia (Lilian Valeska) and Soraia (Maria Bia), four battling friends, who live in the favela slum and unite in pursuit of their dreams, but always putting in the circle women’s issues such as beauty and their relationship with men and family. And to hear stories like those of the series, it’s enough to go to the house of Antonieta Costa, which is the meeting point of womenfolk of the Cidade Alta. Nieta, as she is known, has been the chambermaid of Falabella’s theatrical spectaculars for 18 years and a distinguished resident of the community, one of those that everyone knows.

The nursing student Joanelma Silva, 37, is one of real “negas” of the place and says that she identifies a lot with the Lia character, who, like her, has a teenage daughter with problems such as excessive consumption, typical of her age. But there are those who also identify with the ‘freaking’ shown on the streets of the fictitious Cidade Alta. Ana Dias, who dreams of being a plus size model, doesn’t deny it.

“Is this to tell the truth? I’m a flirt yes. Some friends told me they have never seen a woman meet someone at the baile (dance) and leave with that person on the same night. I always see it in any (baile) funk I go to. The girl disappears and later appears happy with life,” offers the dressmaker who specializes in Carnival costumes.

The friendship between Nieta and Miguel Falabella was the starting point for the idea of doing a show set in Cidade Alta. But the story really started three years ago, during the celebration of her birthday. The prose among the guests passed through several subjects, including sex.

“I’d changed my megahair (weave) and Miguel was playing tug on it. So I said to stop no because I had ended up changing it. And when change our hair, we sleep in hide and seek, which is to put your face toward the pillow. And I also said that the negas of Cidade Alta, to get sexy and comfortable, you have to have a corpão (great body) and cabelão (big hair). Then the joke about Sexo e as negas came up, remembers the hairstylist Mauricéia Nascimento, one of the many women who inspired the author.

Co-existing with all this witticism of Cidade Alta, Falabella was really destined to create Sexo e as negas, which also earned money for many residents of the place.

“When Globo authorized the production of the series, Miguel quickly told me. Then I told everyone here in the community and summoned people to sign up for the figuration of the program. People of all ages showed up. I even had a line outside my door,” Nieta remembers.

When he goes to Cidade Alta, the author feels at home.

“I’ve always been well received there. It’s always a party,” says Miguel, who wanted to honor all the women of Cordovil and especially Nieta that inspired the character Zuma, who is a theater maid, and has a granddaughter Duda Coast acting in the plot with her name.

The controversy

Writer/actor Miguel Falabella takes a selfie with Nieta Costa
Writer/actor Miguel Falabella takes a selfie with Nieta Costa

Even before the premiere, which took place on September 16, Sexo e as negas was already on everyone’s lips. The reason was the controversy over prejudice and racism on the part of Movimento Negro (black movement) and women’s groups, who have made criticisms of the program. Women of the Cidade Alta disagreed with the judgement.

“I think people are much more uncomfortable with the theme in relation to sex, and they aren’t paying attention to the fact that four black girls, unknown to the public, are representing what happens within a community. What is being shown in the series is nothing that doesn’t exist in real life. I consider myself a feminist and I have no problem seeing a woman in the community talking and having sex in the way she chooses,” opined singer Roberta Ribeiro, 29.

Vânia Gomes, who teaches theater in the community, sees the title of the show in an affectionate view.

“I am a nega and negrinha of Miguel, to the end. I am too happy with the program. And being called a “nega” is a gesture of affection, of love (1),” – says Vânia, 51.

Miguel Falabella, meanwhile, lamented the criticism.

“I can’t understand what bothers people. They are working women with the problems of any woman. And in the end they still give a musical soup for everyone. What is the problem? It’s not offensive to anyone. They are women of the XXI century, emancipated. Living in Cidade Alta doesn’t diminish anyone. I was very sad. I never had such a rejection in my career, with a letter of repudiation. I find it violent. There is nothing offensive to anyone. They exist and they’re there. They’re many voices that will not be silenced. Say what you say, but I think I’m giving a reflection rather positive. Much more positive because it’s real, it’s a reflection. Much more positive than if they were four doctors in Leblon and Ipanema,” vents the artist, who has a career of over 30 years.

Despite the controversy, Falabella emphasizes that the feedback that he has received from the public is much more positive than negative.

“It’s good to know that I have received immense support from black women who write to me praising and thanking me. Because really if the aversion was unanimous, I’d have stopped writing,” he completes.

North Zone Rio as a source of inspiration

This is not the first time that Miguel Falabella was inspired by the North Zone for his artistic creation. The neighborhood of Irajá staged another series of the author, Pé na Cova, which returns to the TV Globo grid next year for its 4th season. But this intimacy with the suburb is in the veins of Miguel, who is from Ilha do Governador and also spent part of his youth running after sweets in the Cosme e Damião through the neighborhoods of São Cristovão and Benfica.

Tainá de Oliveira
Tainá de Oliveira

“I like looking at my people. I speak what I know. I was raised in the Rio suburb. I have a strong accent, I have this song in my talk. I talk about other things too, but because I am an artist, he says.

Bet: Tainá de Oliveira

One of the bets of the Cidade Alta of Cordovil to shine on TV, on stage and in fashion catalogs is the young Tainá de Oliveira, 17. The beauty and charisma of the aspiring actress and model has drawn attention. The experience she acquired doing the figuration in Sexo e as negas aroused in her a childhood dream, which has begun to become a reality.

“Being an actress and model is my big dream. I really enjoyed having participated in the recordings, but I stopped because I had to start preparing myself better,” reveals Tainá, who plans to start acting classes this month and dreams of sharing a scene with actors Taís Araújo and Rafael Zulu (2).

Source: O Globo


1. Usage of terms such as “nega”, “negrinha” and “neguinha” remains a debated issue. For some, the terms are affectionate while for others they are pejorative insults. Often times, for many, the usage of such terms depends on the context, how they’re used and the tone of voice of the speaker. The topic has been covered in previous posts such as this one.

2. Actor is also featured in the Sexo e as negas series

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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